Continuing on our food journey, let us today explore a destination that has given the taste of India to the world to sample. You must be familiar with the name of this city which is also an important place of pilgrimage for the Sikhs. It has held great significance in the annals of history owing to a massacre.
Amritsar is known throughout the world for its rich culture and cuisine. Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple is the most prominent religious place for Sikhs and in 1919 the holy city saw many lose their lives at the Jallianwala Bagh.
Today let us venture into the gullies of Amritsar and explore the foodie delights they have to offer.
Amritsar lends its name to a fish preparation that is not only exquisite but also has had a big hand in putting the city’s name on the food map of the world. We are talking about the Amritsari fish. A simple dish of fish that is fried in a mix of very basic ingredients like besan and yoghurt has caught the imagination of chefs around the world. The result being that Amritsari fish is served with slight innovations in hotels and restaurants almost everywhere.
The food item that is next on my list is the Amritsari kulcha. There are different kinds of breads but hardly anything comes close to the divine Amritsari kulcha that comes as crispy as can be. Generally served with a spicy preparation of chickpeas, called chole in Punjabi, the chutney that is served alongside adds to the experience. There are shops that are specifically in the business of churning out kulchas and the variety that they have to offer will blow your socks off. You get plain kulcha, of course, but then there are also the stuffed kulchas which often travel through as many as three tandoors to make it to your plate. The kulcha-chole combination or the humble aaloo kulcha are a vegetarian delight up for grabs in many restaurants boasting of authentic Indian flavours.
All this food talk is making me thirsty, and that brings to mind the next thing that Amritsar has lent many international menus — lassi. This sweet drink that is highly refreshing has seen many forms. A perfect way to deal with the scorching heat, lassi, comes in many flavours. You get to choose from a wide spectrum including kesar, malai, mango, strawberry and almond. For those who prefer something salty, a jeera version is available. Keeping in mind the changing preferences of people, the lassi shops in Amritsar have started to offer a diet lassi. Usually served cold, this frothy drink is rich in consistency and creamy in its taste. Another famous drink from here, which I think must have been invented to fight the cruel Indian summer, is the shikanjvi. A close and a little tweaked version of the regular nimbu paani shikanjvi is richer in terms of having herbs, especially those with cooling properties like mint, and masalas that aid digestion. With all that talk on food I think I need to get a glass of that shikanjvi.